General practitioners (GPs) are confronted with a wide variety of clinical questions, many of which remain unanswered.
In order to assist GPs in finding quick, evidence-based answers, we developed a learning program (LP) with a short interactive workshop based on a simple three-step-heuristic to improve their search and appraisal competence (SAC). We evaluated the LP effectiveness with a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Participants (intervention group [IG] n=20; control group [CG] n=31) rated acceptance and satisfaction and also answered 39 knowledge questions to assess their SAC. We controlled for previous knowledge in content areas covered by the test.
Main outcome - SAC: within both groups, the pre-post test shows significant (P=0.00) improvements in correctness (IG 15% vs CG 11%) and confidence (32% vs 26%) to find evidence-based answers. However, the SAC difference was not significant in the RCT.
Most workshop participants rated "learning atmosphere" (90%), "skills acquired" (90%), and "relevancy to my practice" (86%) as good or very good. The LP-recommendations were implemented by 67% of the IG, whereas 15% of the CG already conformed to LP recommendations spontaneously (odds ratio 9.6, P=0.00). After literature search, the IG showed a (not significantly) higher satisfaction regarding "time spent" (IG 80% vs CG 65%), "quality of information" (65% vs 54%), and "amount of information" (53% vs 47%).
Long-standing established GPs have a good SAC. Despite high acceptance, strong learning effects, positive search experience, and significant increase of SAC in the pre-post test, the RCT of our LP showed no significant difference in SAC between IG and CG. However, we suggest that our simple decision heuristic merits further investigation.